2019 Cornell Survey of Sexual Assault and Related Misconduct

Dear Cornell Community,

Since 2015, Cornell has conducted a survey every two years to measure students’ knowledge of the university’s policies, procedures and resources, as well as their Cornell experiences, related to sexual assault, sexual and gender-based harassment, stalking, and dating and domestic violence. Today, as we release the findings of our third such survey, it is important for all of us to acknowledge that our community still has considerable work to do to become a safer, more respectful environment where all students can thrive.

The 2019 Cornell Survey of Sexual Assault and Related Misconduct was administered during the spring semester to a stratified, random sample of 6,000 students enrolled at our Ithaca, Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech campuses. A total of 2,247 students completed the 2019 survey for an overall response rate of 37%. We are grateful to participants for their willingness to share their experiences. Our student population has become increasingly empowered and open to discussing these difficult topics, and the information in this survey allows us to be even more responsive.

Below is a snapshot of the survey results. An overview of summary results and data tables can be found on the Sexual Harassment and Assault – Response and Education (SHARE) website.

  • The survey found that half (50%) of respondents said they have experienced one or more specific forms of harassing behaviors, down from 55% in 2017. However, the percentage of students who experienced impacts from those behaviors (i.e., they felt the harassment had to be tolerated or that it created a hostile environment) has increased in 2019, most notably among graduate/professional women.
  • The percentage of students who have experienced nonconsensual sexual contact (penetration, oral contact or touching) involving physical force, threats of physical force or incapacitation since entering Cornell has risen slightly, from 11% in 2017 to 13% in 2019.
  • Consistent with previous survey results, undergraduate women, LGBTQ students and students with disabilities continue to experience victimization at significantly higher rates than their peers.
  • The majority of students who experience nonconsensual sexual contact talk to someone about their experience—most often, a friend. This demonstrates the important role we all can play in fostering a culture of caring on our campuses. The SHARE website has helpful resources on how to support a friend who has experienced sexual violence.
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 students who experienced nonconsensual sexual contact reached out to a Cornell- or community-based resource to talk about that experience. We must continue to inform students about the care and support that is available to them on campus and in the community.

No university campus, including ours, is isolated from these societal challenges. Increased education and prevention programming, along with national conversations surrounding Title IX and the #MeToo movement, have elevated the conversation about what is and is not acceptable behavior. It is our hope that, with even greater awareness, each member of our community will take an active role in advancing a living and learning environment where all students are safe and where we all are empowered to intervene when inappropriate behaviors threaten the rights and well-being of others.

Cornell remains committed to providing the leadership, tools and resources to promote a safe place for all members of our community. We are continually assessing education, intervention and prevention strategies, as well as developing new programs and initiatives to support students. We encourage you to take advantage of these resources (see below) and to continue the conversation with your peers. Together, we will continue to aspire to a climate where everyone feels safe and respected.


Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Dana Zappetti, M.D.
Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Weill Cornell Medical College

Randi Silver, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences

Cornell is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and respectful learning, living and working environment. To this end, Cornell will not tolerate sexual and related misconduct. Through Cornell University Policy 6.4 the university provides means to address sexual and related misconduct, including sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation.

Additional resources include: